Food pantries expect to be busy as holidays near - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Food stamp benefits cut, pantries see surge in need

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Last week, a stimulus bill temporarily boosting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits ran out for 47 million Americans.

But, those people are not the only ones feeling the effects.  Because the bill expired, an average family of four could see a $36 cut in their food stamps each month.  Because of the drop, food pantries are now expecting a spike in demand.

"We're probably going to be very busy for the rest of the month, and particularly with the holidays," said Lindsey Ein, executive director of Inter Parish Ministry in Newtown.

It's been less than a week since the cuts kicked in, and they've already seen a noticeable jump, starting with 18 families in need just today.

"We don't see this kind of clientele size this early in the month.  This normally comes later in the month when food stamps usually run out," Ein added.

The shelves at the Inter Parish Ministry are full enough right now to handle that expected increase in demand, but if the demand keeps up, come the beginning of next year, the shelves could end up empty.

"Things will get very bare here," Ein told FOX19.

That's only after they get through the holidays, when donations are at their peak.  They'll need all they can get to carry them into the new year when they start to see a fall-off in donations.  But, if these numbers are any indication, things aren't slowing down.

"We're seeing so many people who've never had to do this before.  People have never asked for help, never needed help.  It's hard for them to come through the door of a pantry," Ein said.

SNAP benefits were raised in 2009 thanks to part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The law was designed to help people affected by the recession.

For more information, click here: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap-arra-2013

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